FROM THE FOUNDING MEMBERS
"It was after my return to Delhi to join the Jawaharlal Nehru University in1971, however, that my endeavours to combine my work in the reconstruction of classical political economy with the problems of development took concrete shape. With the help of some other economists, the university offered me an opportunity to launch a programme in postgraduate studies for the newly constituted Centre for Economic Studies and Planning. Over these last years we have attempted to build postgraduate and research degree programmes that promoted critical thinking in economic theory, in development theory and policy. It is in my endeavours to combine theory and historical experience that I have found teaching and interactions with colleagues the most rewarding."
- Krishna Bharadwaj
".. . I … returned again to Delhi as professor at the newly established Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1973. With most of my colleagues and especially with Professor Krishna Bharadwaj, I shared a good deal of common interest in economics. We thought it would be possible to build a relatively different kind of department where the M. A. course would not follow the usual pattern. Our initially small but enthusiastic group of colleagues were all serious about teaching, and we launched an M. A. programme which, I still believe, had some freshness of approach and emphasis."
- Amit Bhaduri
I joined JNU on 15th April 1973 and as the title indicates, CESP did not exist then; in fact I joined CPS to begin with, since Professor Krishna Bhardwaj was already there. … I immediately began teaching them Linear Economic Models or what came to be known as the LEM course. … I remembered that we first got hold of all first classes and then added some high second class (maybe 57% or so) and that was our short list, that is those who were called or interview. The first batch was selected thus.
Between April and July, we were drafting courses, sitting with three of the most learned people around at that time: Professors Sukhamoy Chakravarty, Ajit Biswas and K.N. Raj. They had clear ideas of what should be done and taught and although I was drafting several courses, I knew that what I was preparing was going to be thoroughly grilled. Once the courses began, time flew by, students passed out regularly except there was no batch joining in 1983 and consequently no one graduated in 1985 unless there were some people who had been repeating courses. Those were interesting times: we were young and while CESP was under attack most of the time, it made us as a group also most cohesive. There were differences too but those differences were largely kept inside and every one outside thought that we had complete uniformity of opinion.
- Anjan Mukherji
JNU at that time  was remarkably small and intimate, but with an intense intellectual atmosphere. It was also informed by a deep social commitment. Every new faculty member was expected to meet Vice Chancellor G.Parthasarathy, and when our turn came, GP told us: "No doubt you will make names for yourselves; but you must always ask yourselves what you are doing for society at large."
There were two basic principles underlying the academic programme of the Centre, and these were stated by Amit in a number of documents he drafted on behalf of the Centre, including the one stating our requirements to the UGC Visiting Committee for the Sixth Five Year Plan. These were: first, the Centre must introduce to students all the major traditions in economics, the Classical, the Walrasian and the Keynesian; and second, it must introduce to students all the three major modes of analysis, theoretical, historical and statistical. … And the argument for it has been simple: you cannot be a good Keynesian unless you know Walras; you cannot be a good Walrasian unless you know Keynes; and you cannot master a system of general equilibrium where prices are determined by demand and supply unless you are familiar with the classical theory where demand determines output and the "natural price" depends upon the conditions of production and an exogenously given distributional parameter.
- Prabhat Patnaik
Reminiscences of my JNU days begin with early seventies when I left Kolkata for Delhi to join JNU. The early years were full of excitements with the enthusiasm for a small team of six to begin a new department, the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning (CESP). We drafted the courses and tried those, on the batch of students from different parts of the country, who joined the newly offered Masters programme in CESP. The courses offered by CESP were soon recognized as a stream in heterodox economics which hardly existed in India (or even elsewhere) at that time. Those branched out in areas of heterodox theory as well as applications and supplemented by mainstream theory offered by faculty equally competent in the latter branch of economics.
The early years at CESP were rich, in terms of friendship, new ideas and the set of students eager to learn and interact. Politically the place provided space for fresh thinking, often in line with the changing panorama of Indian polity as well as economy. And life in the campus was beautiful, especially with the forests and greenery waiting to welcome the new University.
- Sunanda Sen
The University was new, the number of students and faculty small, and there was a sense of great enthusiasm. What attracted me most was the freedom to formulate courses and we were in agreement with the academic direction that Prof. Bharadwaj wished to give to the Centre. She thought rightly that students should get an idea of the grand narratives in economic theory, and the historical and societal context within which economic theories were formed. Apart from the essential courses on economic theory and quantitative methods, there should also be courses acquainting students with classical political economy, with economic thought and with economic history. We also laid considerable stress on analysis of trends within the Indian economy. I remember a Greek research student once telling us that he had come all the way to study in CESP because he did not find any other department where Keynes and Kalecki's theories were taught, and indeed ours was also probably the only place where Walrasian general equilibrium was taught.
- Utsa Patnaik